fMRI feedback enhances emotion regulation as evidenced by a reduced amygdala response

Anna Zilverstand, Pegah Sarkheil, Niclas Kilian-Hütten, Frank Schneider, Rainer Goebel, Klaus Mathiak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Deficits in emotion regulation are a prominent feature of psychiatric conditions and a promising target for treatment. For instance, cognitive reappraisal is regarded as an effective strategy for emotion regulation. Neurophysiological models have established the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) as a key structure in the regulation of emotion processing through modulations of emotion-eliciting structures such as the amygdala. Feedback of the LPFC activity by real-time functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) may thus enhance the efficacy of cognitive reappraisal. During cognitive reappraisal of aversive visual stimuli, LPFC activity was fed back to the experimental group, whereas control participants received no such information. As a result, during reappraisal, amygdala activity was lower in the experimental group than in the controls. Furthermore, an increase of inter-hemispheric functional connectivity emerged in the feedback group. The current study extends the neurofeedback literature by suggesting that fMRI feedback can modify brain activity during a given task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-332
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
StatePublished - Mar 5 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to acknowledge the support of the BrainGain Programme of the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Netherlands Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The study was supported by a grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG, MA2631/6-1 ). We gratefully acknowledge the support of Dr. Nikolaus Weiskopf in optimizing the real-time fMRI measurement setup.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier B.V.


  • Amygdala
  • Cognitive reappraisal
  • Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
  • Emotion regulation
  • Neurofeedback
  • Real-time fMRI


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